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HONG KONG, Dec 27 AFP

December 27 2012, 8:28PM

Hong Kong shares have ended 0.35 per cent higher despite lingering pessimism over the prospects for a deal to avert the US fiscal cliff before the year-end deadline.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index on Thursday added 78.6 points to close at 22,619.78 on turnover of HK$41.60 billion ($A5.20 billion).

Market gains came despite overnight falls on Wall Street as investors continue to fret over the looming fiscal cliff - a series of tax hikes and spending cuts worth some $US600 billion due to take effect in January.

US lawmakers are set to return to the negotiating table after the Christmas holidays in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal, with experts warning that going over the cliff could drive the world's biggest economy back into recession.

"Concerns about the fiscal cliff remain the only obstacle for the market to rally further," Sun Hung Kai Financial strategist Daniel So told Dow Jones Newswires.

Property developer China Overseas Land fell 0.4 per cent to $HK23.15.

China's largest private shipbuilder China Rongsheng Heavy Industries fell 7.4 per cent to $HK1.25 after it said it expected to incur a 2012 net loss owing to a "sharp decrease in the orders and prices of vessels".

Chinese shares ended down 0.60 per cent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 13.23 points to 2,205.90 on turnover of 100.4 billion yuan ($A15.59 billion).

"No new policies have come out in recent days to warrant a gain," said Qian Qimin, an analyst with Shenyin Wangguo Securities.

Property developers led the declines, with Zhejiang Dongri dropping 5.42 per cent to 9.25 yuan, China Enterprise falling 2.96 per cent to 4.91 yuan and Poly Real Estate closing down 1.53 per cent to 12.89 yuan.

Cement producers were also lower after recent gains. Shaanxi Qinling Cement slumped 6.08 per cent to 7.11 yuan and Xinjiang Qingsong Building Materials lost 3.75 per cent to 9.49 yuan.